This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Questions &Answers

Published: November 18, 2004

William J. Maher is interim director of athletics.

UB opens its 2004-05 men's basketball season on Saturday at defending NCAA champion Connecticut. What's the mood over at Alumni Arena?
The anticipation with the season beginning is very high. Both of our teams are looking forward to the challenge of opening the season against the defending national champions. This is a unique opportunity for each of our teams to compete against an elite program, and any time you have an opportunity like that it is great for our program.

This coming season certainly is the most anticipated ever—UB finished last season at 17-12 with a strong showing in the MAC tournament, we return all five starters and we're the favorite to win the MAC East Division. What does this great buzz mean for UB athletics in general?
The success of our basketball teams and their contribution to the growth of our program have been fantastic. The men's team had a very successful run at the end of last season and it validated the university's patience in growing a Division I athletics program. As exciting as last year was and how much anticipation we have for this season, the greatest benefit has been an illustration of how a successful intercollegiate athletics program can impact a university and a community.

The women's team also opens its season tomorrow at Connecticut, which won the NCAA women's championship last year. What's the outlook for the UB women this year?
Our women will be young as we lost two very experienced post players from last year's team, but some of our top scorers return. Our women's team's success will be dictated by how well we play defense and protect the basketball, both things that Coach (Cheryl) Dozier has been working very hard on during preparation for the season. Our goal every season is to compete for the MAC East Division championship and position ourselves for success in the MAC Tournament. With that as a focal point, and the student-athletes' willingness to work hard toward that goal, I believe our women's team can have great success this year.

A common complaint about UB is that the campus lacks school spirit. Do you see that changing?
It's very difficult to manufacture tradition, and tradition is the key to school spirit. At UB, we continued the growth of that school spirit with how our students and other fans reacted to our men's playoff game versus Northern Illinois last March. That was a very important moment in the growth of our program. With continued success in our programs and the increased student body participation in our games, the tradition and spirit will continue to grow. We need to sustain the success we had with our men's basketball program in energizing the students, and grow that support for our other programs.

Tell me about the renovations that were completed this summer in Alumni Arena. How will they affect the athletics program?
The renovations that were completed this past summer have had a significant impact on our program. The office-suite renovation for our basketball, volleyball and softball teams already has had a very positive impact on how we recruit and develop our student-athletes. The space is first-class and speaks volumes about UB's commitment to recruit the best and brightest student-athletes. Within the basketball arena, the new seating and painting are a dramatic change, in both impression and fan comfort. I really believe our fans will be pleasantly surprised with the changes to our venue.

How are basketball season-ticket sales going?
Basketball season-ticket sales are very strong and we already have surpassed last season's totals by more than 200 accounts. The renewal of existing accounts have been better than ever, and sales to new season accounts have been very positive. We expect that to continue right up to the beginning of the season.

I understand you have special ticket deals for UB faculty and staff, especially members of UUP. Tell me about them.
We have a great new sponsorship agreement with the UUP Buffalo chapter that allows us to offer significantly discounted ticket plans to the membership. That, combined with the new seating in the arena, allow us to present this great opportunity. The seats are located in the new chair-back section on the south side, behind the Bulls' team bench—a great location. To date, we have had more than 100 UUP members take advantage of this great offer, and with the strong sales from the other ticket programs, there are not many more 100-level seats available.